Friday we decided to walk the route of the Cabalgata held a couple of weeks ago. We drove into the village and began the very steep incline we had always thought was just someone’s driveway.
Although the way has many switchbacks we didn’t really go very far when it seemed to end. There is a narrow path through the scrub grass which didn’t seem to go anywhere. We admired the cafetal, coffee plantation, and view but then we noticed there was another very narrow path through the plants that seemed to go in the right direction. We proceeded, but with caution as the trail was open, very narrow, and one slip would have sent me tumbling way way way down. Bill didn’t care, but I had to put mind over matter and lean into the hillside as I tentatively stepped along.
Just around the hillside curve were beans! At first I thought they were regular green beans, but then I noticed some were turning purple. That afternoon Veronica, who comes to practice English, told me they eat the young green ones but just the seeds of the older ones that turn purple.
On the other side of the bean crop was a barbed wire fence and gate. We decided not to go further as we didn’t know how far and where the trail would take us. Once again I had to navigate that narrow path back to the main trail……one stone rolled under my foot and almost sent me down the embankment! Not fun!
It took little time to descend though going down a steep gravelly dirt hill can be more dangerous than going up. At one point there was a man working just over the side, but I didn’t want to say hello, scare him, and have him fall backwards so we just went on quietly. A couple of minutes later as we were resting, me sitting on the trail, he came by with a sack of coffee on his shoulders. Yikes! That must have weighed a hundred pounds! He laughed at me for sitting and resting when we were so close to the bottom, and there he was mightily weighed down just trucking along. I asked him if the bag was heavy, and he modestly said that it weighed something but not much. Well, when we got to the bottom, after passing him going back up, there was the sack on the ground by his car. Bill tried to lift it……NOT!
He also told us the trail made a vuelta, or big circle, and indicated we could follow the whole way if we wished. Again he laughed when I said it was long. People around here walk all the time up hill and down, up mountain and down, and think nothing of it.
Back down on the road we headed to the car and met Oswaldo along the way. He was about to drive up to his finca to work. In the back of his truck were huge containers of water, organic spray, and a sprayer to carry on his back. He was curious if we like living here and do we know other parts of the country…..yes and yes! He was also able to tell us which brands of coffee the beans from this area are sold as….Chirripó, Del Vallee, Los Gemeles, and he thinks there is one more. The coffee he said is excellent but just not bringing a good price this year.
Saturday we decided to try to find the other end of the Cabalgata route and see if we could get to where we were the day before. As the man yesterday said the other end came out by the school cafeteria we drove up that road until we came to a gate across a stream and a road that lead up into the hills.
First, we had to ford the stream! I chose to sit down and scoot across while Bill walked across using his walking stick for balance. Towards the top of the road we were afforded a different perspective of our sweet community, especially sort of aerial views of our closest neighbors. Our house is just a bit further on behind the trees and next to the river. The blue house belongs to Tita who cleans our house and takes care of our cats when we are away. Her husband has lung cancer so is trying to get better and stronger.
A few more mintutes ahead we had three choices. One road disappeared into the evergreen trees and seemed to go in the other direction of the Cabalgata. The left one seemed to just be scrubby grass and not the right way. We chose the middle one which climbed higher and for a while was more open as it passed coffee plants laden with red beans ready to be picked. Soon it curved to the right also and went into the trees. Bill went ahead and seemed to feel it was worth investigating, although just out of sight was an SUV with last year’s stickers and just beyond that fallen trees. Mosquitoes told me not to bother going further as it clearly was not the route of the Cabalgata, paralleling the first rejected road. Backtracking, we found the left road we had ignored and eventually realized it was Oswaldo’s cafetal! This was certainly not the Cabalgata route! Three possibilities and none were right!
We followed his road a bit and then turned around to head back to Wally. Just after sitting back in the car and having an energy bar snack the SUV we had seen up in the woods came back across the stream and out the gate. We didn’t recognize the people who got out to splash water on the tires and open the gate.
Perhaps one day next week we will try to find the other end of the Cabalgata route, or we may just have to start from the beginning and see where it takes us.